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Harvard Professor Takes Leave of Absence after Internal Investigation

By Elyssa A. L. Spitzer and Xi Yu, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard psychology professor Marc D. Hauser has taken a year-long leave of absence after University officials found evidence of scientific misconduct in his laboratory, the Boston Globe reported.

Hauser, the author of “Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong,” recently retracted an article published in 2002 in the journal Cognition that suggested tamarin monkeys learned rules as human infants did, after an investigation by a Harvard committee concluded that his conclusions were not supported by his data.

Hauser’s lab has been under investigation for the past three years, and Hauser described the inquiry as “painful” in a letter to his colleagues that the Globe obtained.

“An internal examination at Harvard University . . . found that the data do not support the reported findings. We therefore are retracting this article,’’ Hauser and his two co-authors stated in their retraction according to the Globe. The retraction will run in a future issue of Cognition.

Jeff Neal, spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, declined to comment on Hauser’s departure, stating that ”reviews of faculty conduct are considered confidential.”

“We take our faculty conduct policy seriously,” Neal added in the e-mailed statement. “We have a robust policy and we follow a well defined and extensive review process.”

Several of the students and graduates working in Hauser’s lab declined to comment on the investigation, but expressed respect for Hauser’s dedication to his work.

Hauser has won numerous teaching awards in his tenure at the University and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship—a grant given to artists and scholars who have proven themselves in their field of study—in 2005.

According to the Harvard student course catalog and his office voice mail message, Hauser plans to return to Harvard next fall. He is slated to teach a new class called “Psychology 1066: Origins of Evil” in the spring.

“I am on leave, working furiously on a book, and thus will only be checking e-mail irregularly,” Hauser’s automatic e-mail reply stated.

—Staff writer Elyssa A. L. Spitzer can be reached at spitzer@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at xyu@college.harvard.edu.

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ResearchPsychologyFacultyMarc Hauser